Wednesday, May 26, 2010


We see it all the time on buses and trains – children occupying a whole seat when they could’ve been sitting on a grown-up’s lap.
When offered a seat, the parent or caregiver shouldn’t give it to the child unless the adult is encumbered with a stroller. If not, the adult should take the seat and put the child on their lap.

Parents who let their children sit while grown-ups are standing are creating tomorrow’s poorly mannered teenagers who think nothing of sitting in seats reserved for the elderly and physically challenged. They tune out civility while they tune into their music. You can’t really blame them; they’re used to sitting while adults stand. The only thing many have outgrown is sitting with their feet on the seats.

Recently, Yvonne was on a crowded bus where a woman and her two children occupied three seats. The girls couldn’t have been more than five or six years old, small enough to share one seat. It had been a long day and Yvonne asked the mother could the girls sit together. The mother asked, “Why?” She then rolled her eyes and continued to eat her granola mix. (More about the crumbs later.)

But, all is not lost. There are those parents who say, “ Let’s get up so the lady can sit down.” Or, “Come on, sit on my lap so someone else can sit.” No doubt that’s a parent whose own parents taught them better. Nothing crummy there.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


We’ve never been loyal gym gals. Maybe because we’ve heard about how gross the pursuit of fitness can be. Chris, a friend of Yvette’s had suggested that we write a post about the lack of gym etiquette. We figured who’d better to interview than Chris, a gym loyalist with manners.

What are the most common inconsiderate things people do at the gym?

Monopolizing a piece of equipment or dumbbells. This is usually done by a pair of guys who, despite seeing each other every morning at the gym, chat on endlessly about any and everything. They've forgotten that they're there to work out, not to socialize. While they're "catching up", the 7 sets of dumbbells they've pulled off the rack to do supersets are completely useless to everyone else.

Also, yelling, groaning, screaming and singing. We’re not here to be inundated with a cacophony of sounds because ‘Jimmy Tone Deaf’ doesn’t realize how loud he is.

Anything else?

There’s always the guy who feels that the entire locker room is his personal bathroom. He leaves his dirty clothes on the bench when he goes to the shower, takes over the entire bathroom sink, and then refuses to consolidate his belongings as he's getting dressed. And, of course, he never puts his dirty wet towels in the bin - he just leaves them on the floor.

How are gyms handling keeping equipment clean and what should a member do to help? Obviously, wiping down equipment with a used towel isn’t the way to go.

Gyms ask people to wipe down the equipment when they're finished using it, but as you've guessed, wiping it down with a sweaty towel isn't exactly what they had in mind. I bring two towels with me when I workout - one for me and one for the equipment. That way, I'm not repolluting the equipment with my sweat when I try to make it clean for the next person.

If you could make the rules, what would they be?

The golden rule of "do unto others as you would have them to unto you" would probably be my only rule. Maybe spread posters around the gym - by the bench press, a sign would read "Would you want to use this bench if it were covered in someone else's sweat? Wipe off your equipment with a clean towel when you're finished, please." By a highly used piece of equipment, a sign would read "You were able to use this equipment today because the person that used it before you didn't hog it for an unnecessarily long time. Keep that in mind as you use this."

We thank Chris for his input and if you’re a gym regular we hope that your experience will be less rude and germy from now on.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


“I want you to know that I went out of my house twice in the same day looking for a gift for you,” said Yvette’s friend as she handed her the present responsible for ripping the woman away from the comforts of her home, not once but twice. Yvette thanked her and wondered if a gift was in order for her friend who had tried so hard.

Somehow giving a running commentary on a present you’re giving takes the ‘giftyness’ out of it. A good gift is thoughtful and may take time to find. But there’s no need to say that when you give the present. And there’s never a need to point out how someone is difficult to shop for, it’s not like you were asked for a present. The receiver shouldn’t feel that you’ve been put out because of them. Keep in mind, that’s your perception of them. You have decided that they are difficult.

Yvette dreads Secret Santas because she’s been accused of being too picky. “I’m accosted by co-workers asking strange questions about my bathing habits, what books I hate and do I eat sweets? It’s like a secret hunt.”

There will be those presents during all of our lifetimes that’ll evoke, “What were they thinking?” They were thinking of you and wanted to give you something nice, that’s all. And all you have to do is be as gracious as you can. You may never touch it or use it but if you decided to re-gift it, send it to the other side of the country.

For the person who has everything - and they shouldn’t be faulted for that - there’s always something you can do that's significant. You can donate to their favorite charity; give them an experience such as lunch at their favorite restaurant. Whatever you do, don’t scold them or make them feel wrong because you wanted to get something so right.

Give the gift and put a wrap on the gab.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Wedding season is here again and so is the drama that surrounds it.

A friend of ours, we’ll call him Peter, was informed by his brother that two of Peter’s three children could come to his son’s wedding reception because they were over thirteen, the youngest, eleven years old, could not. “My brother called me two weeks before the invitations were sent out even though he knew about the age issue for several months. The invitation was addressed to four out of the five family members.” So what to do with the eleven year old? Peter decided to attend only the ceremony with his wife and children."

Peter and his brother have a sister. Her two daughters are in the wedding party but because of their ages, they too weren’t invited to the reception. “My sister had already bought the dresses for the girls, had she known sooner, she wouldn’t have gone through the expense of having her daughters in the wedding party.

“So, Dad,” asked Peter’s 16 year old, “the kids in the wedding are basically going there to work?”

Let’s digress for a moment. In Italy, and perhaps in other countries, some guests are invited only to the church and others are invited to both the ceremony and reception. Invitations are sent to both sets of guests and it’s perfectly acceptable.

Back to Peter’s situation, we’re in New Jersey at a country club and we don’t have to do as the Romans do, we couldn’t because the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception are all in one place. You can go in that room, but don’t come in this room or you just have to go home.

After some back and forth discussions, an invitation was extended to Peter and his family to stay at least for the cocktail hour. While the gesture was appreciated, Peter figured that since the ceremony starts at five, he’d rather leave, drive back to Connecticut and have a nice dinner at home. (We hope the kids under thirteen in this family won’t develop inferiority complexes or fear of wedding invitations.)

We think Peter is doing the right thing by going to the ceremony and his decision to skip cocktail hour is sensible thinking.
We wished his brother had told his siblings sooner about the age limit.
We think Peter’s sister’s daughters should be invited to the entire wedding. (If not, what a waste of their pretty little dresses.)
We understand the expense of weddings but we understand the importance of family, it’s priceless.

Maybe his brother should have listened to Sinatra when he sang, ‘All or Nothing At All’.